Monday, January 1, 2024

History of General Relativity Development

Galina Weinstein writes in a new paper:
This analysis explores Einstein's evolving ideas and decisions regarding the mathematical framework of his theory of gravity during the critical period 1912-1916. My findings in this paper highlight that Einstein's brilliance did not exist in isolation but thrived within a vibrant scientific discourse. His work was significantly enriched through contributions and discussions with friends and colleagues, notably Michele Besso and Marcel Grossmann, illustrating the collaborative essence of scientific advancement.
Yes, I think that is correct. Einstein got most of the crucial ideas from others.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is widely regarded as one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of physics. It challenged established notions and expanded the boundaries of our understanding, unveiling a new vision of spacetime and gravity.

Many intriguing questions surround Einstein’s groundbreaking achievements. Was the theory of general relativity solely the creation of Einstein, the solitary figure who would seclude himself in an office with his violin, pipe, and a stack of papers? Or was it the culmination of Einstein’s multifaceted collaborations and interactions with other scientists?

She has written a book to give a long answer.

As I see it, special relativity was the more significant breakthrough. After that, it was clear that we need a Lorentz-invariant gravity theory that locally looked like Minkowski space, and that approximated Newtonian gravity. The main obstacle was the development of Riemannian geometry.

The available covariant tensors were the Riemann tensor, Ricci tensor, metric tensor, and scalar curvature.

The field equations seem complex, but they really just say that the Ricci tensor is zero between stars and planets. It is not clear who had that idea.

There is a Wikipedia page on General relativity priority dispute.

Einstein once said:

Thanks to my fortunate idea of introducing the relativity principle into physics, you (and others) now enormously overrate my scientific abilities, to the point where this makes me quite uncomfortable.
He did not introduce the relativity principle. It was not his idea. He got it from Poincare. But yes, Einstein was greatly overrated because he was falsely credited with special relativity.

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